Case Analysis

Flesh Phobias

Loonylovesfiles' review of "Skin", by Ben Mezrich

This is the first of a series of reviews for the X-Files Novelization's. We'd like to welcome Loonylovesfiles as one of our new contributors.

If you enjoy a thrilling and suspenseful story with lots of action, mystery and drama, "Skin" is an excellent novel to read. In this novel by Ben Mezrich, based on The X-Files TV show, Mulder and Scully are in New York City investigating a bizarre incident at the Jamaica Hospital in Queens: A frail old man who has recently received a skin graft has a sudden extreme burst of violence, crushing a nurse's skull with his bare hands and escaping out a second-story window. During the course of their investigation, Mulder and Scully discover that the skin used for the graft on the old man came from a John Doe that was involved in a major car accident. The agents track the skin to a technologically advanced biotech company called Fibrol that specializes in skin-transplant research. Their questioning of the medical chief of staff there ultimately leads Mulder and Scully to Thailand, where they search for a doctor long presumed to be dead who may hold the key to solving the mystery of the tainted skin. While there, they learn of the possible existence of a mythological being called The Skin Eater that is feared by the locals and worshipped by a select group of monks. The agents' pursuit of this legendary monster eventually leads to the ultimate battle between scientific progress and saving humanity.

"Skin" is refreshing to read as it feels like a classic "first-season" episode of The X-Files, a monster-of-the-week tale that compliments the dynamics and style of the TV show. The author stays true to the characters of Mulder and Scully, with Mulder's dry wit and relentless pursuit of the truth fully intact while Scully typically remains skeptical throughout, but stays loyal to her partner, nevertheless, in order to solve the mystery. The author seems to have a good grasp on Mulder and Scully's relationship as there is plenty of excellent dialogue between them and the settings and atmosphere are descriptive and reminiscent of the creepy settings of the early X-Files days. However, despite a brief appearance by Skinner, none of the other X-Files supporting cast appears in the story. This is strictly a "Mulder-Scully" tale with strong "guest" characters that help to keep the story interesting.

The plot, itself, is full of twists and turns that keep readers on the edge of their seats. Although Mezrich's writing style is a bit wordy sometimes, his descriptions of Mulder and Scully's surroundings will appeal to the visual reader immensely. As well, Mezrich creates characters in the story that are interesting and are written in such a way that the readers care about them and get involved in trying to guess which ones are the "good guys" and which ones are the "bad guys." There are a variety of distinct settings in the book, from New York City to Thailand to add excitement and adventure to the story. Mezrich describes these settings with immaculate detail. The story is exciting and contains many paranormal elements in it to keep X-Files fans satisfied. There is action, drama, humour and mystery. It's a great read for a rainy Sunday afternoon!